BEAVERTON, Ore. – Linfield College’s record-setting national champion softball team was among seven recipients of the 2011 George Pasero Team of the Year award, presented Sunday at the annual Oregon Sports Awards gala on the Nike World Headquarters campus.
Honoring the state’s top sports performers and performances of 2011 before a full house inside the Stanford Theatre, the action-packed program featuring 26 award presentations in 19 categories.
The best team in the history of Linfield softball and perhaps NCAA Division III history, the 2011 Wildcats won a NCAA-record 51 games and hit a record-setting 103 home runs on their way to the Division III national title.
A total of 40 school records fell as the Wildcats slugged their way to the Northwest Conference crown and the program’s second national title in five seasons. Four Wildcats were named first-team All-Americans and Linfield’s coaching staff, led by Jackson Vaughan, was named NFCA Coaching Staff of the Year.
In addition, Linfield’s cumulative team GPA of 3.4 is one of the top-20 in the country, a dozen team members received NFCA Academic All-America honors.
Sharing the Pasero Award with Linfield were the University of Oregon’s Acrobatics and Tumbling team, the Concordia University softball team, the Clackamas Community College wrestling team, the Oregon Tech softball team and the University of Oregon’s football and indoor track and field teams.
Graduated seniors Kayla Hubrich and Claire Velaski accepted the Pasero award onstage on behalf of the team. The pair thanked their teammates, fans and supporters, and members of the coaching staff.
The 2011 softball team becomes the fifth Linfield team honored with the Pasero award since its inception in 1961. The others include the 2007 softball team, and the 1982, 1984, 1986, 2003 and 2004 Wildcat football teams.
Vaughan was among the finalists for the Slats Gill Sportsperson of the Year award, honoring the state’s top coach or athletics administrator. Merritt Paulson, owner and president of the upstart Portland Timbers professional soccer organization, was the award recipient.
Linfield also had four nominees in the running for the Ad Rutschman Small College Athlete of the Year award, though none took home top honors. Football’s Drew Fisher and baseball’s Tim Wilson were edged out by NAIA decathlon champion Bryant Sentman of Concordia for the men’s honor. Softball’s Emilee Lepp and Staci Doucette were finalists for the female Rutschman award, which went to Oregon Tech pitcher Jackie Imhof.
Boston Red Sox centerfielder and Oregon State University alum Jacoby Ellsbury, professional soccer player and former University of Portland standout Megan Rapinoe, and 23 other athletes, teams, coaches and community champions won trophies.
The red-carpet evening also featured VIP award presenters Oakland Raiders tight end Kevin Boss, Chicago Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney, retired soccer great standout Kasey Keller and Oregon Track Club Elite runner Chris Solinsky, among others.
“Oregon’s sports legacy runs deep and for 60 years the Oregon Sports Awards have honored our best athletes, teams, coaches and executives. SportsOne is proud to work with Nike and the Portland Tribune to celebrate today’s standouts as they grab a piece of our state’s rich sports legacy,” said Jim Etzel, president and CEO of Oregon-based sports marketing and entertainment agency SportsOne.